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ANTdrew's Native Plants and Ants Journal

native plants

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#101 Online ANTdrew - Posted July 27 2020 - 11:42 AM

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Update 7-27-2020

There are no byFormica feeders nor Sunburst out in nature, so how do ants get their carbohydrates out in the wild? We all know about aphid tending, but many native plants provide sugary exudates directly to our favorite six-legged friends. Here are a couple of examples:

Crematogaster nectaring on trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans):
IMG 7742

Camponotus and Monomorium gathering exudates on Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) stems. I sometimes regret planting this thuggish plant, but I like it more now after observing this.

IMG 7739
IMG 7737

Crematogaster feeding on partridge pea (Chaemachrista fasiculata) nectaries:

IMG 7740

The bad news is that I'm back to the drawing board with my front bed because it had to be dug up again after some Biblical flood events trashed our basement yet again. Oh well, at least I didn't plant any perennials yet. :/

Edited by ANTdrew, July 27 2020 - 1:27 PM.

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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#102 Offline Hayashi - Posted July 27 2020 - 12:57 PM

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This is a beautiful journal. Thank you for sharing.
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#103 Online ANTdrew - Posted July 27 2020 - 1:13 PM

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This is a beautiful journal. Thank you for sharing.

Thank you, my friend. That means a lot.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#104 Offline Hayashi - Posted July 27 2020 - 6:48 PM

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In September of last year you posted a picture of a praying mantis. Do you know what species it is? It has really great colors!
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#105 Online ANTdrew - Posted July 28 2020 - 3:01 AM

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Thanks! Pretty sure that was a Chinese mantis, Tenodera sinensis.

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#106 Offline Kaelwizard - Posted July 31 2020 - 8:03 AM

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I find Chinese mantids annually around that time. Unfortunately at that point they’ll only live another month or so.

Aphaenogaster queen w/ brood.

 

4 Crematogaster queens - Single queen and trio.


#107 Offline CatsnAnts - Posted August 1 2020 - 6:41 AM

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Like I said, I don’t tend to explore much on this website, but this journal is really unique! It’s nice to see someone that’s fascinated by plants - and actually knows what they’re talking about! Great pictures!


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#108 Online ANTdrew - Posted August 1 2020 - 7:59 AM

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Like I said, I don’t tend to explore much on this website, but this journal is really unique! It’s nice to see someone that’s fascinated by plants - and actually knows what they’re talking about! Great pictures!

Thank you, my friend. Everything in nature is connected. Without native plants, there would be no native ants.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#109 Offline ponerinecat - Posted August 1 2020 - 7:06 PM

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I don't see too many ants on plants, which is a bit strange. Could just have to do with what types of ants we have here.



#110 Online ANTdrew - Posted August 2 2020 - 8:54 AM

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I don't see too many ants on plants, which is a bit strange. Could just have to do with what types of ants we have here.

Hmmm, it could do with the make up of native ants vs native vegetation. Sounds like both are pretty skewed in human dominated areas in CA. It could also do with the more arid climate. It’s worth looking into in any case.
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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#111 Offline ponerinecat - Posted August 2 2020 - 6:47 PM

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Definitely a possibility. Only ants here that interact avidly with plants are the invasive L humile.


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#112 Offline NickAnter - Posted August 2 2020 - 6:48 PM

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In the Sierras I see Lasius and Camponotus going high into these trees whose leaves secrete a tasty liquid(The Vespula are all over them too). Ill make sure to take pictures of the trees and have them ID.


Colonies:

Nylanderia vividula   (250 workers, and male/female alates)             Founding Queens                          

Lasius niger   (15 workers)                                                      Temnothorax nevadensisx12(1 queen with an egg)

Lasius cf. americanus   (55+ workers)                                     Tetramorium bicarinatum   (Larvae)

Pheidole navigans   (25+workers)                                            Lasius brevicornis(No brood)

Solenopsis molesta group  (4 workers)                                    Lasius cf. crypticus(no brood)

Solenopsis xyloni   (5 workers)                                


#113 Offline ponerinecat - Posted August 2 2020 - 6:52 PM

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In the Sierras I see Lasius and Camponotus going high into these trees whose leaves secrete a tasty liquid(The Vespula are all over them too). Ill make sure to take pictures of the trees and have them ID.

Interesting. Locally the only ants I see in pine trees are Liometopum, while oak trees are preferred by Crematogaster. Camponotus seem to stay on the ground. Likely a difference in species though.



#114 Offline NickAnter - Posted August 3 2020 - 6:57 AM

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In the Sierras I see Lasius and Camponotus going high into these trees whose leaves secrete a tasty liquid(The Vespula are all over them too). Ill make sure to take pictures of the trees and have them ID.

Interesting. Locally the only ants I see in pine trees are Liometopum, while oak trees are preferred by Crematogaster. Camponotus seem to stay on the ground. Likely a difference in species though.

 

Yeah, mainly only see modoc there. The Lasius also go into what I think are aspen trees, where they presumably tend aphids high off the ground.


Colonies:

Nylanderia vividula   (250 workers, and male/female alates)             Founding Queens                          

Lasius niger   (15 workers)                                                      Temnothorax nevadensisx12(1 queen with an egg)

Lasius cf. americanus   (55+ workers)                                     Tetramorium bicarinatum   (Larvae)

Pheidole navigans   (25+workers)                                            Lasius brevicornis(No brood)

Solenopsis molesta group  (4 workers)                                    Lasius cf. crypticus(no brood)

Solenopsis xyloni   (5 workers)                                


#115 Offline jplelito - Posted August 27 2020 - 4:23 PM

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I just read this whole thing.  It was like a good novel - couldn't put it down!  I also have a lot of native plants in the yard; I should journal those at some point as I really am happy to see the interest in this thread.  I could suggest a few others for those that love extrafloral nectaries - for example sicklepod senna (Senna obtusifolia) - flowers a bit earlier in the year than the partridge pea (Which I also have all over) but attracts all the same bees, some cool lep cats like Cloudless Sulphur larvae, Sleepy Oranges, etc (at least here in NC but I think those species range over a lot of the US). A lot of ants seem to depend on these plants.  It's no surprise when folks don't have insect diversity in the lawns when they also don't have plant diversity.  Zoysia and Leland Cypress plus pine straw mulch is only a habitat for fire ants and super-polgynous argentines.  Somewhat boring, in my opinion.  I have various neighbors who stop by to either heartfelt thank me for bringing butterflies to their yards, and others who ask me to mow my weed patch.  *shrug*   I also have neither fire ants nor Argentines in my yard.  But that's another story...

sicklepod senna

This is the sicklepod - featuring a wee Monomorium on the little brown nectary six o clock of center (if it wasn't 8 at night there would be 1.3 metric boatloads of them on this plant, PS) plus the eggs of (I am guessing since I saw the butterfly earlier when she nearly bit it on the front of my truck as I came up the driveway) a Cloudless Sulphur at 1 o clock and dead center (white oblong thingies).  Could be Sleepy Oranges too - I'll know if I can find the cats.  I really like Sleepy Orange larvae - they're covered in these hairs that each glisten with a single droplet of... something.  Nothing messes with them, so, poison? 

 

I love how this plant folds up gently each night to sleep.  She's folding up earlier of late.  Winter is coming.


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#116 Online ANTdrew - Posted September 10 2020 - 5:33 PM

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Update 9-10-2020

 

 I'm long overdue for an update to this journal. My school system is doing all distance learning for the foreseeable future, so that means I get to enjoy my yard a lot more. Ironically, it is also making me way busier so far than teaching in person, but that's another story.

 

 In 2020, we've had maybe triple the amount of rain we had last summer. It rained perhaps 90% of the days in August, which is usually one of the dryer months recently. That has led to lush growth from most of my natives, and it's also led to a surge in aphids. I'm mainly seeing aphids on various species of milkweeds I have, along with various ant species tending them.

 

Here are some Nylanderia and Monomorium on the seed pod of an Asclepias tuberosa:

IMG 8138
 
More Monomorium aphid tending:
IMG 8137
 
Here are some Tapinoma tending to aphids on the stem of an Asclepias syriaca:
IMG 8139
 
It is also Helianthus time! I have more species of this plant genus in my yard than any other. Helianthus is actually my username on the AC forum.
 
Helianthus maximilianii:
IMG 8146
 
Helianthus divaricatus (one of the first natives I planted):
IMG 8144

 

 
I also finally got around to planting one of my dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) seedlings. I look forward to seeing how much real estate the clump will take up in the coming years. I may or may not come to regret bringing such a thuggish species here!

 

 


Edited by ANTdrew, September 10 2020 - 5:37 PM.

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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#117 Online ANTdrew - Posted September 13 2020 - 11:15 AM

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Update 9-13-2020

 

 The Crematogaster cerasi colony that lives in my wood retaining wall had a big flight Friday. Thankfully, I was home virtual teaching, so I could enjoy it!

 

IMG 8187
 
My New England asters are blooming now. These have struggled the past few years with heavy infestations of Tingidae flies that cause heavy leaf damage. This year I fought back with several rounds of neem oil spray, so they are looking a lot better. They are total butterfly magnets! Here is a Junonia buckeye butterfly gathering nectar. There are several of these in my yard at all times now.
 
IMG 8205

 

 


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"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#118 Online M_Ants - Posted September 18 2020 - 8:41 PM

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I love this journal and it has made me want to get some cool native plants in my yard. The only problem is here in Southern CA, a lot of the "beautiful natives" are kind of ugly and dead most of the year. Any advice on good plants or where to find them?


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Solenopsis molesta- 2 queens all workers escaped :(

Pheidole sp. 1 (1)

Veromessor pergandei- 3 queens 50ish workers and brood

Veromessor andrei-multiple colonies 2 for sale

https://www.youtube....FG7utFVBA/about


#119 Online ANTdrew - Posted September 19 2020 - 2:26 AM

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I know next to nothing about California natives, but I’m certain there are lots of amazing and beautiful plant species. If you look up the Xerces Society, you could probably find some good plant lists for pollinators in your eco-zone.
You bring up a good point: what makes a plant beautiful? Almost all the plants in this journal die back during the winter months and stay dormant half of the year. They get tall and weedy looking and flop over. The plants only look really beautiful during the two-three weeks they are blooming, which is when I photograph them. For me, the real beauty is seeing all the LIFE and diversity in my yard that I don’t even find in some nature parks.
If you have the opportunity, I say go for it!

"The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer." Prov. 30:25   I <3 tiny ants


#120 Online M_Ants - Posted September 19 2020 - 7:48 AM

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You make some good points...Thanks for your advice. My search continues! 


Solenopsis molesta- 2 queens all workers escaped :(

Pheidole sp. 1 (1)

Veromessor pergandei- 3 queens 50ish workers and brood

Veromessor andrei-multiple colonies 2 for sale

https://www.youtube....FG7utFVBA/about





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